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November 24, 2008


IMG00127.jpg [image: © 2008 Nicholas Jenkins]

I sometimes feel that I live for surprises, for the unforeseen, for the sight which cracks the ice on my soul. It happened again this morning. I was shambling into Walgreens, ruminating uneasily on the frustrated comment (made by someone very close to me) that perhaps I suffered from ADD. My body followed, in an almost automatic way, the familiar path towards the pharmacy. I made a left turn at shoe supplies corner, intending to head up toy alley. And there it was. Or there she was.

The aisle was empty. Or was it? A large, soft doll -- female, youthful, caucasian model, brown hair, pink shirt, pink shoes with green soles -- lay prostrate (OED: "Of a person: lying with the face to the ground, in token of submission or humility, as in adoration, worship, or supplication; (hence more generally) lying stretched out on the ground, typically with the face downwards... Laid low in mind or spirit; submissive or abject; defeated or powerless... In a state of physical exhaustion or complete weakness; unable to rise or exert oneself; debilitated") on the linoleum like someone robbed and left for dead.

In her wounded pathos, she seemed for a moment uncannily, traumatically human. Or was it that for a moment I was magically transported out of my own inert human-ness to a doll-like simplicity? The thought crossed my mind that I ought to kneel down next to her and weep. For her? Or for myself? (Then I ran the movie a bit further and when I did I saw myself being led meekly away while the doll was replaced on her shelf.)

But perhaps it was not so much a matter of enigmatic subjectivity or of exchanged worlds as of sheer relief in me for the frisson of the unexpected moment? Kleist wrote that grace "appears to best advantage in that human bodily structure that has no consciousness at all -- or has infinite consciousness -- that is, in the mechanical puppet, or in the God." The transportation, the grace, the bliss, the sadness (so fractional and limited in time but still so strong), happened in a semi-deserted Walgreens in a Silicon Valley suburb. It means they could happen again anywhere. I just hope to God that they will.

Posted by njenkins at November 24, 2008 01:18 AM

With the exception of interspersed quotations, all writing is © 2007-09 by Nicholas Jenkins